Posts Tagged ‘2006’

The Fox Family (2006)


Plot: A traveling family circus troupe set up shop and prepare for business in town. What could be anymore innocent? This family of a father, son and his two daughters are actually a group of "kumiho" (basically a group shape-shifting nine tail foxes!!), in order to retain their human appearance for eternity they need to feed on human liver during a full moon. Now they need to convince some gullible victims to join their troupe. They enlist Gi-Dong a horny old bastard who they take in to feed on, but when he discovers their true form he begs for mercy and insists on helping them attract victims to their circus. Although now a after brutal murder had taken place just as they arrived, they now have a snoopy cop following their every move. Let the singing and dancing begin. Review: When originally seeing the trailer for this movie, my eyes lit up, I got goosebumps etc. When acquiring my copy I felt a little stupid, originally I had actually expected this movie to be Japanese, I was far more familiar with myths of shape shifting foxes from the Japanese Anime "Pom Poko", thankfully no raccoon testicles present. The Fox Family does come as a refreshing treat when compared to pallet of movies I've watched recently. The movie is compared to a mixture of The Rocky Horror Show and Takashi Miikes Happiness of the Katakuris couldn't be anymore spot on, the crazy mind boggling family reminds me of several instances from the Happiness as well as the really funky musical notes. I have to say I have a unique soft spot for musicals, I'm the sort of person who owns a copy of "The Producers" instead of "The Sound of Music", I've always had a interest in Asian Musicals, some people think Asian and Musical they would think back to the old Peeking Opera movies where the heroine would sound like a cat on a hot tin roof, but with The Fox Family leading lady Park Si-Yeon is a really saucy diva who shatters any stereotype. The sub-plot with the snoopy cop with nothing better to do comes off as a little tiresome at first, by the start of the movie you feel "Pro-Fox Family", they're the good guys and this bloody cop just keeps appearing. Although I was glued to the television after the pay off later on the movie is revealed. In the end, The Fox Family was quite amusing and is recommended to anyone who is a serious fan of South Korean Cinema.

VS: The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (2006)

Postmodern Life of My Aunt 3 (Photo Credit; Cornerhouse)

The tenacious “Aunt” of director Ann Hui’s 2006 film is something of a middle aged battle-axe at odds with the ever changing sprawling city of Shanghai in which she lives (Ye Rutang played by Gaowa Siqin) we join her meeting her nephew Kuan Kuan at the train station. He soon finds his aunt to be something of a weirdo; she lets her birds fly around the flat, has an empty fridge and no mobile phone. Ergo he decides not only to escape her tenacious ways but also to fake his own kidnapping for financial gain. What happens thereafter to the poor Aunt are a series of tragic, events in which characters drift in and out whilst attempting to con “Aunt” Ye Rutang out of her money. For the first half of the movie these events are interspersed beautifully with comedy then things all get a bit too much for Ye Rutang and she retires to live with the afore-mentioned nephew in a smaller industrial town in Manchuria.

After the fake kidnapping incident she takes in a lodger, a girl who she found in a restaurant whose face had been cut by her boss at work. Sure enough this girl steals a vase and fakes being hit by a car deliberately dropping the vase in an attempt to get the driver to pay up. Whilst out performing Tai-Chi in the park Rutang meets Pan Zhidang portrayed gloriously by Chow Yun Fat, they share a mutual interest in poetry and Peking opera. She decides to take him in and things are going great until Chow’s character invites Ye Rutang to pile her life savings in a cemetery plot investment scheme. When the graveyard company moves location Ye suspects foul play and the relationship is over. I mentioned above that there are comedy elements to this movie, well, there are but like just about everything else in this movie even the comedy is tragic. The scene in which Pan Zhidang (Chow Yun Fat) accidentally kills the nosy neigbour’s cat is hilarious, when the neighbor then dies from a heart attack (read: broken heart from losing her only friend, the cat) it made me feel gut wrenchingly guilty for even having the nerve to laugh! Another scene in which the dye on Rutang’s home-made red swimming costume bleeds into the water leading the onlookers to think she is on her period is also comedy genius. Perhaps it is the purely observational way in which director Ann Hui deals with the script that allows the events to be funny in the first place. Ye Rutang never breaks down, there are no angst ridden monologues in which she rants at the world rather she just quietly accepts the situations; the would-be crushing defeats. There are some brilliant directorial flares; a cut-away shot which shows brown leaves still hanging onto a tree, provides the perfect metaphor for an ageing woman struggling to keep hold of life in the big city. In the same way Gaowa Siqin’s wonderfully restrained performance contrasts dramatically with the plethora of loose cannons that she encounters throughout. Another thing I should mention is the stunning classical soundtrack by Joe Hisaishi (who also composed the scores for several Studio Ghibli flicks). Here the romantic score serves to provide depictions of the mundane with an incredible ethereal quality. However, it is following Chow Yun Fat’s departure from the movie that things tend to get a bit slow. Whilst I appreciate Ann Hui’s lesson that life may indeed involve a dull winding-down, it is a structure with questionable entertainment value. When Ye Rutang’s estranged daughter turns to accuse her of walking out on the family, Rutang, perhaps out of guilt returns to Manchuria for a humble life of selling shoes on a market. There is a twinkle of hope in the form of Rutang’s nephew but that’s about it. Not to give too much away, which I don’t think I have, this is how the movie ends; with a sense of regret, things may’ve been rough in Shanghai but at least it was a lush and varied life. I think the latter, slower part of the movie could be appreciated as much as the rest, but as a viewer, the grim downturn might be better received with a bit of prior knowledge. Otherwise it’s an honest movie with fantastic highs and contrasting lows which overall are worthy of serious acclaim.

[Ed. Note; Podcast on Fire has taken the plunge into providing movies reviews from various Festivals across the United Kingdom. Full credit to Lantern Jaw for attending Visible Secrets]

My Name is Fame (2006)


Plot: Dried up actor Poon Kar-Fai (Lau Ching-Wan) once relished his time in the lime light and ended up throwing it all away through arrogance. Working in amateurish productions, Poon decides to change his career from Actor to Manager. His protégé appears in the form of mainland beauty – Faye Ng (Fok Sze-Yin). With little experience and knowledge of the business, Poons help is valuable. With Faye’s popularity growing by the bucket full the relationship between Poon and Faye gets tested. Faye soon finds herself going to star in a rather risqué movie in Japan. With Faye gone, Poon tries his hand at the movie business one last time… Review: Thank you Lawrence Lau. I thought this movie was great! The film has many guest appearances, name dropping and film references. They were all done in a more tasteful way, which Escape from Hong Kong Island couldn’t achieve. Lau Ching-Wan you’re a star mate, this is really your best work. You were great in your crime thrillers, but this movie is icing on the cake. Many people lost faith in him for some of the movies he’s starred in over the years, mainly ‘Himalaya Singh’, which I haven’t seen, but from the reviews it’s got, I best not bother. The film almost seemed semi-biographical for Lau seeing his recent mishaps. The scenes were Lau gets the motivational speech from Tony Leung was great, I loved the montage of Lau’s character stopping his bad habits and getting his life back together. Fok Sze-Yin was also great, this being her first movie, she has a terrific range as a actress, very refreshing. Some of her heavy scenes were handled perfectly, not once did I feel like her appearance the movie was bad or amateur. At first I wasn’t too sure on her, but by the end of the film she really was the diamond in the rough. The many appearances in this movie impressed me; Ekin Cheng, Tony Leung Kar-Fai (my favourite appearance), Fiona Sit, Fruit Chan, Gordon Chan and Ann Hui all make appearances in the movie as themselves. None of them are portrayed as ego maniacs either which is very respectful. Other notable appears from people as characters in the movie are; Derek Tsang, Henry Fong, Ku Feng, Wayne Lai and Stephen Tung. The films running time was a good 1hr 30mins. The film didn’t drag at all, it was well paced. My only frustration was at the end of the movie, your left on a cliff hanger and the film just ends. It’s my only flaw with this movie. Final thoughts, a brilliant piece of work. Enjoy!

Rob-B-Hood (2006)


Plot (HKFlix): Slipper (Jackie Chan), Landlord (Michael Hui) and Octopus (Louis Koo) is a 'dream team' of "Thieving Musketeers". They are like a bullet out of a gun whenever an opportunity for a heist comes. However, rape and pillage is out of the question, as their principle is never to intentionally hurt anyone. Man Yee, sole heiress to the distinguished Ding Family's fortunes, has given birth to a boy - Matthew. However, he is snatched away by Man Yee's ex-boyfriend Max (Terence Yin), who in a state of jealous delusion, thinks Matthew is his own flesh-and-blood. An unfortunate accident leads to Max's untimely death. Max's father, a mafia boss is out to take revenge, but more importantly, to regain custody of his 'grandson'. A reward of 30 million for the kidnapping of a tiny tod sounds like an offer that the thieving trio cannot refuse. However, one thing snowballs into another, landing everyone into a moral dilemma and a dangerous quandary. And adorable Matthew has made his way into everyone's heart, so they have to choose between the ransom and their conscience. Review: When this project was first announced the movie was entitled “Project BB” and the trio of thieves were going to be Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung & Yuen Biao. This sent the internet community into a fit in the hope that there could be one last movie starring “The Three Brothers”, plans soon changed with Eric Tsang replacing Sammo. Plans changed again when the trio of thieves were changed to Jackie Chan, Michael Hui & Louis Koo and the film was renamed “Rob-B-Hood”. With the new cast and new title, it obviously killed some of the momentum that the film was gaining. The film is great, I laughed, I nearly cried and I shouted “Kick his ass!” at the TV on two occasions. The cast was flawless, the guest appearances we’re great and the cameo appearances from Daniel Wu and a stammering Nicholas Tse were just priceless. Now many Michael Hui fans will be let down by this flick since Hui is only really in 1/3 of the entire movie. They’ve chosen the right character, because Hui’s character ‘Landlord’ was a boring guy really. I have nothing against Michael Hui, oh, no, no I respect him immensely. Comparing his character with the unlucky gambler and the womanizing playboy, he’s a bit of a dull one. Yuen Biao co-stars in the flick as a police inspector ‘Steven Mok’, his character was friends with Thongs when they were in School together, but now on opposite sides of the law he tends to over look some of Thongs flaws. There is a great scene where Steven goes to Thongs apartment which is filled with debt collectors, triad lackeys, Octopus’s pregnant wife, Thong’s crush Melody and the baby. Confused by the amount of house guests Thongs tries to play some of them off as his cousins. Soon as Stevens back is turned the Triads and Debt Collectors lunge for Thongs! Part of what makes this such a great film for the hard core HK cinema fans is seeing Yuen Biao and Jackie Chan together on screen. That said, his talents felt wasted, and his appearance comes off as a little forced. The role he played was just not important enough. The biggest disappointment is having one of the best climactic showdowns to come out of a HK film in a long time, and having Yuen Biao show up when its all over. However, we do get a little taste in the middle of the film with some limited action from Biao. But when its all said and done, it almost felt like a tease. Probably only the only joy kills in the movie is the CGI. Now I know CGI was only used in scenes where it wasn’t humanly possible for a child, but it still looks pretty naff. Some CG shots of baby Mathew strangely look two dimensional. I even think there was a blue a screen of Jackie running with the basket, but why wouldn’t he use a blue screen, if he actually went and done that stunt and it goes wrong this would have been Jackie’s last movie! Trust me the CGI is the only thing that spoils the movie, the rest of it can possible be the best action comedy of 2006. The cast is excellent. However, as good at the film is, if it had stayed a three bothers film, it would have been so much better. Perhaps having Yuen Biao, Sammo Hung, and Jackie as the three thieves would have been too obvious. So in this reviewers humble opinion, and with all due respect to Louis Koo, it would have been great to see Yuen Biao in Koo's place, and Sammo in Yuen's place as the cop. The idea of pairing Jackie and Yuen, and then having Sammo as the third wheel works so well(See Wheels on Meals, or Dragons Forever). The film is wonderful, but having our beloved trio together again would have made it a true classic. Guest appearances? As I mentioned above Daniel Wu and Nicholas Tse make cameo appearances as security van drivers. Ken Lo (now know as Ken Low) plays a heavy along with Hayama Hiro. Charlene Choi plays Octopus’s long suffering wife, Concory Chan plays Thongs debt collector, Terence Yin makes a quick appearance at the start as Cherrie Yings ex-boyfriend, Andrew Lin plays Cherrie’s current boyfriend, Gao Yuanyuan plays the nurse – Melody, Chen Baoguo plays the father of Terrence Yin’s character. Teresa Carpio plays the nut-bag wife of Michael Hui’s character. Umm other appearances include, Gordon Lam, Joe Cheung, Hui Siu-Hung & probably that I didn’t notice. Final thoughts, a nice light hearted action comedy, the perfect combo. Enjoy! Credit also goes to Jeff Wildman for helping with this review.

Re-Cycle (2006)


Plot (Universe): Chu Xun (Angelica Lee) is a young writer whose first novel has become the best seller in Southeast Asia. "Re-Cycle" is her next book. It deals with the supernatural forces. Every reader anticipates the publication of her new book "Re-Cycle", since all of them believe that her writings can bring impact to them. Ever since she starts writing "Re-Cycle", various weird incidents emerge. Later on, she finds out that the heroine of her new book as come out of the fictional world into the real world. One night, Chu decides to follow the heroine into the other which she has the experience of real and pure horror! Review: When seeing trailers for this movie I thought, wow this looks amazing. So you knew I would have been looking forward to watch this movie. This movie has stunning graphics, sets, scenery and characters, but it some how manages to be pretty crap. Okay crap is too strong a term. Watching the movie at first it seemed alright, but then film introduced the annoying 'scary girl with long black hair', yes the same character that can be seen in The Ring trilogy, The Grudge movies, Dark Water and so on. It has now became a curse on horror movies, people will not enjoy horror movies if you keep making the scary little asian children as the evil spirits. The film does have some good parts to it, like the relationship between Chu Xun and the little girl, Ting Yu. The stunning computer graphics, the amazing cinematography, hell the movie even has Zombies! But it's just so damn confusing and strange! On minute she's running up hill, the next she's fallen into a tunnel made up of 'aborted' childen, which is a little sick in my books, I felt a little bit ill watching that giant baby thing, eww yuck! Apperances include a aging Lau Siu-Ming (most people will remember him from the Chinese Ghost Story movies as the Old Dame). Siu-Ming apperances as this mysterious old man who tells Lee that she shouldn't be in this world. Lawerence Chou makes brief apperances Lee's agent. Rain Li makes a short appearance as her mate and sister of her ex-lover. Final thoughts, the film does have some heart, the CGI in the movie is amazing it has some great fantasy/supernatural sets, but the Pang brothers have chosen Style over Substance and it shows.

The Host (2006)


Plot: Gang-Du is a middle aged father who spends his days sleeping in his food stall by the Han River, the stall is owned by his father. Despite his flaws his father believes that Gang-Du is a good son/father. Their lives are suddenly turned upside down when a giant mutated amphibian (It looks like a mixture of a Toad and cat fish and acrobatic skills of Tarzan rolled into one) emerges from the river. The rampaging mutant runs a riot through the area killing everyone in it’s path, Gang-Du and his daughter Hyun-seo attempt to out run the monster, but Gang mistakenly grabs the arm of another school girl rather than his daughter causing her to be captured by the two ton sea mutant. The monster returns to the river with Hyun-seo and disappears… Gang-du’s brother and sister both return home to morn the loss of their niece along side their brother and father. Gang-Du receives a mysterious phone call from Hyun-seo, she's alive and trapped in a giant sewer, somewhere near the Han river. There's only one problem though, the family are in quarentine. It seems that anyone who came in contact with the monster could be victims of a contagous virus which is putting the town to threat. But virus or no virus Gang-Du and his family escape from the hospital. All they need to do now is save Hyen-Seo! Review: Now I found this to be a fresh genre for Asian Cinema, we hardly see much monster movies outside of the Japanese Godzilla franchise. Many people have said this movie is a mixture of Alien, Godzilla, Jurassic Park & Um... Little Miss Sunshine. I have to say I enjoyed the movie, the opening sequences are a thrill to watch, the middle half of the movie fades in and out of interest and of course the finally is also a pleasure to watch. Again Song Kang-Ho proves that he's possibly the most talented Korean actor there is in South Korea! He's given 100% in all of his movies fine examples include: Memories of Murder, JSA, Sympathy of Vengeance, Shiri, heck even his camoe in Lady Vengeance was rather amusing. Final thoughts, fun film, great cast and probably alot better than those retro Godzilla flicks! Enjoy!

Heavenly Mission (2006)


Plot: Infamous triad Autumn Yip (Ekin Cheng) has just been released from an 8 year sentence in a Thai prison. He returns back to Hong Kong as a changed man, rather killing his rivals with machetes, he’s donating vast amounts of money to several charities and becoming quite the public figure. Yip’s sudden change of heart doesn’t fool Inspector Ming (Alex Fong) though, he knows that Yip is planning something, people don’t just change, triad is a triad and that’s that. Another unhappy face is Ghost (Stephen Fung) a young triad in Yip’s group, Ghost was making a name for himself, until Yip returned and stole his thunder. When Yip is reunited with his old triad buddies he asks for their help. He wants them to help him set up a supposedly legitimate business. But Inspector Ming and his Anti-Triad Unit don’t believe him for a minute. So the big question is, has Autumn Yip really changed? Review: James Yuen amused me with My Wife is 18, he then wowed me with Crazy n the City, but with Heavenly Mission he’s left me doubting him. No doubt that the cast is good, Ekin being very calm and collected, Stephen Fung being shown in darker colours than usual and Alex Fong as a hot headed cop who’d break the rules to find dirt on Yip. The story is a little complex; I do admit that I was scratching my head at times. I really think James Yuen was learning how to run before learning how to walk. Ekin Cheng’s character seems rather emotionless until the last half hour although I guess it’s all part of his characters new calmer image. Stephen Fung surprised me as this no holds barred, who dares win type triad, his ruthlessness really shows a mean streak which could be perfected in the next coming years. Later the film My Name is Fame star Fok Sze-Yin appears as a blind masseur from Macau who gives Autumn a massage after her original client dumps her. Autumn befriends her and travels to Macau just to visit her, although as you can expect this provides a weakness to Autumn, giving the advantage to foes. The film has a mixed assortment of actors, Eric Kot as the boss of a tabloid newspaper, he had the right image for the film, really suited him, he usually annoys me but this time he done well in his role. Screen legend Ti Lung appears in the movie as Boss Hung, Autumn and Ghosts boss, he spends most of his time running a restaurant and eating meals with his sworn brothers. Sunshine band member Wong Yau-Nam appears as a tag along triad buddy of Ghost, Niki Chow appears as his forever nosey/annoying girlfriend. Other notable appearances in the movie include Julian Cheung, Wayne Lai, Hu Jing, Carl Ng, Ng Ting-Yip, Henry Fong and the lanky Samuel Pang. Oh and that bald fat kid from AV. Final thoughts, the film is decent, the cast is good, but it doesn’t surpass Crazy n’The City, that film was Ace! Enjoy!
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